Singers, Lovers, Big Ears and a Surprise Sighting
Another hot morning in Hot Springs, it cannot keep me away from my hike. Armed with a full stainless steel bottle of fresh cold Hot Springs Mineral Water I head into the park. When I reach the Tufa Terrace I see small Squirrel stopping to much on a small nut. As I head up the path I almost trip of an Eastern Cottontail, it is the sweetest sight sitting their looking up at me. Plenty of places to run, I feel so blessed that it chooses to stay and let me take photographs. I am thankful for this beautiful moment.
A littler further along high in a tree above me a juvenile male Cardinal is eating breakfast and occasionally breaking into to song. I Love watching it’s ballet of perching and foraging. On the Peak Trail I spot a tattered winged Butterfly, it seems miraculous it can still fly. When I reach the Carriage Road I spot a patch of Asiatic Dayflowers, a beautiful new bloom is a glorious shade of blue.
I hike up the Dead Chief to the Short Cut Trail, where I discover Love is in the air. High above sweet Squirrels are courting, running up and down the Trees and across branches. I look up to see a lovely couple nose to nose on a branch peeking at me from high above. Nature’s symphony of renewal is all around me as I stand transfixed. The heat is increasing and I need to get to the top of the mountain to have a drink before continuing my hike.
When I reach the picnic area I see more rambunctious Squirrel activity on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. As I approach I see it is a much larger mammal at the base of a Tree, it turns and heads into the Forest. I moving low and fast to try and get a look at this creature. To my surprise it is a Raccoon, I try to a photograph before it moves out of sight. This is the first time I have seen a Raccoon in the morning since I began hiking in November of 2009.
I have to keep moving, today is going to be 111 degrees I head to the trail head and stop for more water. I hike up the North Mountain loop and connect with the Upper Dogwood and Lower Dogwood Trails. The leaves glow with the sunlight creating a soft green light all along the trails. Song breaks out in the Forest as tiny little birds arrive flying in and out of the Trees around me. They are tiny Vireos, I think Black-Whisker Vireo. Any help with identification would be greatly appreciated.
The temperature is rising as I head down the Floral Trail to Fountain Street to refill my water bottle. As I prepare to walk home a beautiful Red Spotted Purple Butterfly lands before me. A flying jewel from Nature to finish my morning in the park.
Nature is a blessing we much protect.